IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Transcript: The Beat with Ari Melber, 2/25/22

Guests: Joan Walsh, Eugene Robinson, Juanita Tolliver, Sam Nunberg, Barry McCaffrey, Terrell Jermaine Starr, Melissa Murray


Biden picks first black woman for Supreme Court. Ukraine`s capital under threat as Russia advances. Ukrainian president vows to fight Russia invasion. Thousands flee Ukraine as Russian troops advance. Isolated and out of power, Trump causes new GOP headache with Putin praise.



NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so very much for letting us into your homes during these truly extraordinary times. We`re grateful. The Beat with Ari Melber starts right now. Hi, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Nicole. Thank you so much. Our coverage continues as we track two major stories, President Biden making history today and breaking the barrier as he nominates the first black woman ever to the Supreme Court. It is a momentous development, and we have special guests live with their first reaction right here on The Beat in just a few minutes.

Before we hear from them, we have a quick update on the other story, the big one destabilizing much of Europe right now, the Russian Military attacking Ukraine`s capital Kyiv and putting Ukrainian forces on defense while their resistance may be initially stronger than what Putin first planned on. That`s according to one U.S. official. You can see some of the movements here, the Ukrainian president holding on strong, saying he will stay and defend his country. That`s amidst reports that he is, understandably, one of Russia`s top targets inside Ukraine right now.

In another development, President Biden picking up on that roiling debate from yesterday to now formally indicate the U.S. will join other nations in taking what is another piece of financial escalation and sanctioning Vladimir Putin himself.

First, as we basically try to cover two big stories ricocheting here, we begin with NBC`s Erin McLaughlin live in Kyiv for the latest. Erin, what can you tell us?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ari. Well, it`s eerily quiet right now here in the capital following a day full of explosions and sirens. for the first time in this two-day war, we heard the sounds of gunfire. It happened about two and a half miles from where I am now in a residential neighborhood of the capital. We could hear shots ringing out as Russian forces encountered Ukrainian Military.

We saw video footage from the neighborhood of a Russian armored vehicle essentially roll over a civilian car, Ukrainians then running to the driver`s rescue, prying him out of the vehicle, just an example of the kind of terrifying interactions that have become sort of a reality here in the capital. People have been told in that neighborhood to remain inside their homes. There has been a warning put out. They believe that Russian forces have somehow gotten a hold of Ukrainian Military uniforms, and they`re worried about what might happen if people leave their homes and they think they`re encountering Ukrainian Military, when in fact they`re encountering Russian troops.

Now, earlier in the day, I was at a nearby Metro station, one of the main metro stations in the capital, which is doubling as a bomb shelter at this point. Hundreds of people were huddled inside the station, including a woman and her 13-year-old sister. She was cuddling her sister. She said that she was absolutely terrified. They were worried because when the sirens went off, they ran to one shelter and the rest of their family were only able to make it to a shelter on the other side of the town, and they were concerned about what would happen should they become permanently separated and that sort of a reality here for people, a possibility, given the scale of the violence that we`re now seeing across the country.

I was also speaking to another woman. She was there with her two friends and their cat. She was adamant though. She said that she was going to fight for her country, no matter what, Ari.

MELBER: Erin McLaughlin with some really important and somewhat harrowing details there. Stay safe. Thank you, reporting from Ukraine.

And now, we turn to the other historic news today which I mentioned, and it reinforces just how presidents must balance several deeply significant tasks at once. There is really no presidential decision that leaves a longer imprint on American government than who gets a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. We know that. We know Donald Trump was recently able to promote three judges who will shape Americans` lives for presumably decades.

Well, today, President Biden took his turn for the first time. while many officials make promises, some fulfilled, some diluted, some abandoned, it`s notable that today, the President formally announced his nomination of the first black woman to the Supreme Court in American history, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.


And this occurs exactly two years after his campaign promise to do so.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: An accomplished lawyer, a distinguished jurist, one of the nation`s most - on one of the nation`s most prestigious courts. My nominee for the United States Supreme Court is Judge Ketanji Jackson. I`m looking forward to making sure there is a black woman on the Supreme Court to make sure and in fact get every (inaudible).


MELBER: And now, the confirmation continues, but the nomination part of that pledge fulfilled today. There is several important factors at play here. We will get into them with our guests, one of them is certainly the import substance and breakthrough into people and power presented here. You saw just a moment ago, U.S. president flanked by the power embodied to the executive and judicial branch, his choice to replace an Impero (ph), the Vice President, and his choice to rule on the last word of what the Constitution and the law mean in his new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Jackson.

In that image and that reality of power that you see up there, you see the first black woman to hold these roles, Harris, also by the way, the first female VP ever. So, this is already now part of history, a long time coming and built through teamwork which is something Judge Jackson noted today, in a special shout out she gave to the first black woman to ever become a federal judge. And that is a group I should note, as a newscaster here that until today, had never been tapped for the ultimate promotion a federal judge can get to the Supreme Court. Well, remember, across all of American history, a whopping 97 percent of all the Supreme Court members have been white.


JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACSKON, NOMINEE, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: I share a birthday with the first black woman ever to be appointed as a federal judge, the Honorable Constance Baker Motley. Today, I proudly stand on Judge Motley`s shoulders, sharing not only her birthday, but also her steadfast and courageous commitment to equal justice under law.


MELBER: Judge Jackson would replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice Breyer whom she actually wants clerked for.


JACKSON: Justice Breyer, the members of the Senate will decide if I fill your seat. But, please know that I could never fill your shoes.


MELBER: It was a historic day at the White House. We`re joined by two experienced lawyers, Maya Wiley, Yodit Tewolde. Maya, what does this mean to you?

MAYA WILEY: FMR SDNY CIVIL PROSECUTOR: This was a powerful and moving day when the President of the United States is standing up with a black woman who is the Vice President flanking him on one side and the black woman who he is extolling as one of the top qualified lawyers in the land for the Supreme Court for the first time, it is really hard to form the words to say just how much that meant, not just to me personally, but for so many women of all races and black women, who for so long had been shut out, frankly, of the old boys network, and for too long have not been recognized for the qualifications they have to serve but also sending the message that the president (inaudible) used in his introduction of Judge Jackson.

He talked about the fact that this was a moment for everyone, all children to actually look and see what the possibilities are that lay before them, and that`s what this represents.

MELBER: Yodit?

YODIT TEWOLDE, HOST, `MAKING THE CASE`: My muscles in my face hurt so much, because I`ve been smiling all day. This is one of those days where I`m going to remember where I was, what I was doing, when it was made official that a black woman was going to be nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. what it brought back for me is walking into a courtroom, whether I was a former prosecutor - as a former prosecutor or a criminal defense attorney, in the juvenile division, for example, and seeing people`s faces, especially those kids who got caught up in a system that disproportionately impacts their communities, our communities, and their world just opened up, right?

If you can see, you can be it and that`s what this moment means for me and so many others that you can actually see someone that looks like you, a black person, a black woman, on the highest court in the land. I mean, it`s just - it`s more than symbolism.


But, I`ve got to bring it back to that because we know that she is qualified. We know that - her qualifications already. We know that she is ready for this moment and no one can take away from that. But, right now, I just want to relish how important this moment really is for not just Americans but black America.

MELBER: Yes, no, I appreciate both of your heartfelt reactions as both human beings, which we are all humans here, we sometimes forget that when everyone is in super professional mode. The credentials, as you mentioned, I want to get into and I mentioned the 97 percent because it`s a reminder for people that the past inequities on the court are the product of discrimination. They`re not the product of there being no possible available.

Women lawyers here, we`re joined by two, and we`ve had many other on the program and people know women lawyers, I think around the country or minorities or all the other categories have been shut out. When you hear that it was 97 percent White across history, it just tells you something about how the court has been traditionally staffed. And so, that`s a change today. I do want to get into some of what you both mentioned in terms of who this individual is.

So, our panel stays as we report a little more here on Judge Jackson`s record, service and credentials, tonight many Americans hearing about her for the first time, a Harvard alum who served on that law school`s prestigious law review, like former President Obama. She is in civil rights work with a Commission that dealt with drug sentencing reform. Her most direct experience for this job is on what many consider the second highest federal court, the DC Circuit.

You probably heard of that because it becomes something of a foreign team for the Supreme Court yielding justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Clarence Thomas, they all served on this same DC Circuit that she is currently on. And she was confirmed to that post with all 50 Democratic Senate votes and three Republicans. Here is what she said about independence during that confirmation.


JACKSON: I know very well what my obligations are, what my duties are, not to rule with partisan advantage in mind, not to tailor or craft my decisions in order to try to gain influence or do anything of the sort. I`ve always been an independent judge, and I believe that that is one of the reasons why the president has honored me with this nomination.


MELBER: In that process, she also testified about the role of all types of diversity, from expertise that can be broadly defined to one`s personal experience, to life experience that she argued can properly inform the human side of jurisprudence.


JACKSON: The life of the law is not logic, it is experience, and so, the more experiences that can be brought to bear on our complex legal problems, the better.


MELBER: Since getting confirmed, to what I just showed you that process, she is already ruled in some big cases blocking Trump effort to fast-track deportations of undocumented immigrants. in a case you might remember, because boy, was it a big deal growing out of the Mueller probe when she rejected Trump`s lawyer Don McGahn`s argument that absolute immunity might protect him from any cooperation with Congress or subpoenas issued that`s alive right now with the January 6 probe, where she sided with congressional investigators reminding that Trump aide "presidents are not kings".

There is also her previous work as a former public defender. I should mention, no member of the Supreme Court has had that kind of experience, none on the court now, and all the way back since Thurgood Marshall was the very first black member named to the court a NAACP veteran.

Before I bring back in our guests, I just want to underscore this point because while diversity matters in so many ways, as the judge said, I wanted to speak to both of you about this, starting with Yodit. This is a court that is supposed to balance interests and be open to everything and yet one of its many biases, if you want to call it that, is leaning on former judges, fine, former prosecutors, fine, some politicians, occasionally, like Justice O`Connor, and very rarely does that perspective. We have to go back to Marshall for the perspective of someone who looks at the way this awesome, powerful, and sometimes very unjust system affects people who are accused of wrongdoing, who are arrested, who do go through this system that way.

What does it mean to you to see someone with that background possibly make it onto the court now?

TEWOLDE: Ari, I`m glad that you brought that up because you mentioned the traditional experience, she had but she also had that non-traditional experience. And you just mentioned that when she served as a federal former public defender. So, that means she was in the trenches. She witnessed firsthand inequities that many black and brown people experienced in this criminal legal system.


And so, it is important that she brings that experience and also her lived experience as a black woman, a mother, someone who has had family members in law enforcement, someone who`s had a family member who was convicted of a crime and also Justice Breyer, the person that she clerked for who she is going to be replacing said that she is able to see things from different points of view. And it`s because of her background, is because of her lived experiences. And so, that is critical when you`re talking about professional diversity on the bench to see things in a different way, but to also add credibility to the court`s work that has been struggling over the last couple of years.


WILEY: Yes. I think that`s absolutely right. I mean, remember that in the absence of thinking about all the experiences that people in this country have, what we have is a bench, is a court that essentially only represented for a very long time in the history of this country, the experiences of white men, because what judges do and what justices do when they`re filtering the facts through the law, is they`re looking at it through a lens of how they understand the world.

how you understand the world is shaped not only by where you go to school but by whether you`ve been shaken down by the Police, by whether you have had the experience, as I once did of standing in front of a judge who was white, with another attorney who was another black woman on the opposite side for me, and the judge demanding that the clerk`s find the attorneys, because he was angry the attorneys weren`t in room when we were standing behind counsel table in suits, like, these experiences matter not because that judge intended to denigrate or humiliate us, it`s that he didn`t understand the lens he was looking through.

And so, we need the wise Latina. We need the people who - the Ruth Bader Ginsburg who talked to her colleagues on the bench about what it meant to be a young girl stripped, searched in school, on a case that was before them, that by having a third good Marshall who helped Sandra Day O`Connor, as a white woman, understand where we were in this country in terms of race when deciding affirmative action in the University of Michigan cases, that our laws have to be really looked through the lens of human experience to get it right. So, that are the opinions have the impacts that are intended. that`s what a judge, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

MELBER: on that, - so, that`s my last question to you, Maya, which is, if confirmed and she`ll go through this process, but every - we have more on that later in the hour, everyone is eyeing whether she can get the 50 votes, so far as strong opening day, but, if confirmed, do you see her as someone who can affect and nudge those other justice, particularly on those issues? I`ll just float one example. I say this in the most open-minded way possible.

There are many people in this country and others that have felt, Wow, government power and overreach in the time of COVID and affect their lives and their decisions and their schools. I think that`s completely understandable. Those are issues of fairness and goodwill that I think people can debate.

But, how many people on this current court, including a recent decision that disgust COVID overreach potentially, governmentally see that in the area that is so familiar to so many millions of Americans which is the overreach of being stopped, being searched, being arrested, issues you worked on in New York where under the previous Republican Mayor, there were more stops one year of black men than there were black male residents of New York, which just tells you how habitual that is? I mean, that`s more than a facemask when you go to the restaurant.

And so, I`m curious if you think she could ultimately affect the other justices or is she just going to be writing her own stuff?

WILEY: Well, I think here is what we know about the court. It is an extremely ideological and divided court right now. There is an ideological bent far to the right, and I would argue outside of the mainstream. It is not though a uniformly so, as we know with Justice Roberts, who does not always side with the conservative justices. frankly, it`s going to be very important how the voices of those who have different experiences express them, not only in that back room in which they`re discussing the opinions, but in whether it is concurrences or dissents that they write, they are part of a public conversation that is happening through those opinions. So, her voice will have an impact.

MELBER: Really interesting from two people who know it well, and we`re talking about something very real to a lot of people`s lives today. if confirmed, we`ll see. I keep an open mind as I cover any confirmation, but if confirmed, as Maya says, potentially impacting a lot more. Maya and Yodit, thanks to both of you.

TEWOLDE: Thank you.

WILEY: Thank you.

MELBER: Absolutely. We want to get into that. We`ll have a lot more on it later in the hour. But, coming up, what is the Ukrainian President doing right now?


Why is he releasing videos and how is he trying to summon what is the smaller, more minor power here in his country to still stand up to Putin`s invasion? We have General Barry McCaffrey here tonight as well and later we look at the humanitarian crisis unfolding and then by the end of the hour as promised To Putin`s invasion, we have General Barry McCaffrey here tonight as well. later, we look at the humanitarian crisis unfolding. And then, by the end of the hour, as promised, we have a very special guest on Biden`s pick, the outlook in the Senate. It`s someone who was even once on a shortlist herself. Stay with us.


MELBER: We`re trying many different aspects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on the U.S. side, the Treasury now imposing sanctions directly on Vladimir Putin himself. Russians have installed forces that are near in and around the Ukraine capital of Kyiv. When you look at the live pictures, you can see Russian forces advancing at night in certain areas.

There is also a video that shows Ukrainian forces saying that they downed a Russian aircraft which then crashed into a residential building. This is some of the aftermath of that according to international footage. Video from the Ukraine Interior Ministry shows defense forces shooting down two cruise missiles overnight, a sign of the resistance.

One senior Pentagon official says Russia`s goal is still to decapitate the Ukrainian government and move from there, which means their number one target is the leader of that government, the elected president Zelenskyy, who spoke out today from what is an undisclosed location in Kyiv.


He is widely believed to be of course in danger, his nation under invasion. He also took time to rebut Russian media rumors that somehow, he might have fled.




MELBER: Zelenskyy has referred to the imposition of a type of martial law and barred men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country saying they must be part of the fighting forces in any way they can. A senior Pentagon official also says Russia is meeting additional resistance perhaps more than they bargained for. In the capital here, you can also see more troops on the move. The president spoke to Zelenskyy by phone today. for the first time in history, NATO is deploying its response force for collective deterrence and defense.

For more insight and understanding, we are joined by retired four-star General Barry McCaffrey. Welcome back, sir.


MELBER: We rely on you for many things. Tonight, we look to you for plain English, about your understanding of the state, of the military conflict. As always, there is a range of information including disinformation. There is fog of war. There are of course international journalists. There are videos that our audience has seen. But, if you were starting from scratch and explaining it, tonight, where are we at?

MCCAFFREY: Well, it is day three of the ground war. There is a massive, well-equipped Russian invasion coming in from three different directions. They`re mobile. They`re armored. They have air superiority. They have attack helicopters. I`m sure they have GRU and Spetsnaz agents inside Kyiv and the other major cities right now, prepared to act with covert actions. The situation is very difficult. The Ukrainian center of mass of their armed forces was in the edge, facing the two separatist provinces. Now, they`re going to be in circle. They`re going to have Russians behind them. How will they handle mobile warfare? I think the situation is grim.

turning to Kyiv, Zelenskyy and his very brave civilian government, never mind his fighting forces, are facing the notion of what to do about the Russian president that`s now starting into the capital. You cannot defend a giant three-million-person city from the perimeter because they allow the Soviet shoes, excuse me, Russian forces in and fight them block by block with Molotov cocktails and sniping at them, destroying much of the city, causing enormous way (ph) in casualties or do they declare it a open city, withdraw the government and use passive resistance. The next week will be crucial.

MELBER: Understood. I mentioned some of the Pentagon reporting. You of course, had been inside this type of process and just what we`re hearing, reading here from the reporting despite an overwhelming advantage in manpower and equipment, the Russian advance did lose momentum today. "We assess there is greater resistance by the Ukrainians than the Russians expected", says a senior U.S. official. Your analysis of that.

MCCAFFREY: Well, I think we`re getting a clearer insight in large part due to our correspondents reporting what`s going on the ground, the enormous courage and commitment of not just the Ukrainian armed forces and they called up reservists and the militias, but the common people. They do not want to be governed by Putin`s despotic regime. But, in the short run, the decision will be military, not economic sanctions, not barring Putin from traveling with a foreign visa. The problem will be can the Ukrainian armed forces get such a bloody nose to the Russians that it causes a new sense of a political calculus on the part of Putin? I don`t believe that`s possible. I think in the next 90 days, he takes down the entire country.

MELBER: So, to your point, and under that analysis, you don`t see the level of resistance or pain leading to any off ramp. You said 90 days. We`ve heard some leaking about, oh, they could lose the capital in a week or two. How do we all, as generalists, make sense of those kinds of discrepancies, that timeline that you`re seeing?

MCCAFFREY: Well, of course, we won`t know. All these - like, a lot of things. They say politics is local. Military operations are all local too, and in competition (ph), a fog of war in it, is much a notion of morale and fighting willingness and as it is the strength of your opponent. So, I don`t discount the Ukrainians, but it is David fighting Goliath.


And they don`t have the mobility or air power in which seem to me to confront 110 or more Russian combat battalions. By the way, those battalions are well equipped and well trained reasonably.

One of our shows earlier, they said, somebody was saying they`re all conscript soldiers. They`re not 80 percent of our contract soldiers. And their officers have been very experienced people who fought in Syria and Crimea and Georgia. So this is a very competent military force.

I think, again, I don`t think the outlook is possible for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to change the calculus. I do think in a larger sense what NATO is doing, but the European Union is doing even as we speak, the third entry division of Fort Savannah, Georgia is flowing into Germany with 7000 plus troops who fall in on U.S. armored vehicle, I should have said Fort Stewart, Georgia.

So NATO has come together. It`s astonishing. And I think in the longer run, but Putin is doing is creating a disaster for himself. And it`s not just because he`s conquering an impoverished democratic country, which may well rise up against him with either passive or active resistance, but that he`s going to end up a NATO fearing a return to 1939 1945 devastation of Western Europe.

Finl Sweden, Germany, UK, France, are all getting deadly serious about countering Putin, by the way he sounding very strange, scared, drug addicts Nazis. His rhetoric sounds like someone who`s partially off the rails.

MELBER: Yes, interesting point. I mean, you`ve covered many aspects of this the military situation, the localities, as well as the type of verbal disinformation from Putin, which, at times, as you say, might not find much of a landing anywhere, including even among his sympathetic audiences in Russia itself. General McCaffrey as always, thank you, sir!

MCCAFFREY: Good to be with you.

MELBER: Absolutely. We have our shortest break 60 seconds when we come back; we turn from the military to the humanitarian and refugee crisis stay with us.


MELBER: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is now saying that they are beginning a full-scale storm tonight. Ukraine under pressure in all these ways Russian forces are in the capital. The country has a humanitarian crisis with thousands fleeing their lines to get out supplies dwindling.

As mentioned earlier in the hour it`s complicated by the local martial law that they`re instituting which asked men under 60 adult men to stay in the country not allowed to leave at the borders. Many mixed feelings as young men are told to fight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going back to fight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes of course. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are leaving and you`re going on?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But this --I can`t. I love you Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So will you go and fight?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it need to you fight? Are you afraid?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t want to see our boys and girls die for?


MELBER: Locals also working to try to protect the most vulnerable. There`s new video from "the New York Times" which was hospital staff having to evacuate newborns to a bomb shelter. This was in a city apparently targeted by new Russian strikes.


Melber: Other Ukrainians have been sheltering in the subways Many fear the unknown future.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were sleeping, and my wife woke up and said like, Lenny, its bombs. So I feel firstly I - I can believe in it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t just feel safe, you know, risking our kids trying to live anywhere. So for now we`re here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For now, I must fear about the future days because I don`t know what we should do. Should we stay here or should we move somewhere, so it`s hard to make a decision.


MELBER: Some are making the decision now we`ve seen documented the trips of people fleeing in various ways over 100,000 cares displaced that number could reach millions, according to officials in Pol which is one of the places many Ukrainians have immediately headed. One American describes the journey they faced.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, it was very chaotic it was because the cars are filling the brother and their arm, the member turned away because he can`t leave the country.


MELBER: United Nation sending help with $20 million earmarked to help Ukrainian aid operations, our fears of humanitarian crisis unfolding in cities where, remember, just days ago, life was pretty normal. We`re joined now by Terrell Jermaine Starr, a fellow at the Atlantic Council`s Eurasia Center, also Host of the Black Diplomats Podcast, welcome.


MELBER: We cover this from so many different angles in the military part obviously comes first and war. But we just went through some of that footage some of what we`ve learned about the humanitarian side, what else can you tell us from your knowledge and also reporting out there?

STARR: Yes, so for one thing that`s happening right now is that I`ve driven around the city much of the day, and you see a lot of men walking around with automatic rifles, I visited three recruiting stations today, these stations are teeming with people who are willing to volunteer to fight for their country.

You would think that a call to the average citizen may not draw a massive amount of support. But what I saw today was the overwhelming number of people who are crowding into these centers ready to pick up a gun to fight. It was just an incredible sight of seeing people with jumpsuits and just calming clothes and gym shoes, with these automatic rifles that you`re used to seeing people wearing with fatigues.

You also see a mass exodus out of the city. Any place you try to go to get food, to try to get a taxi, there`s no taxi service really here you tried to order anything like an Uber things that you could do it three days ago, that`s gone trying to get a queue into the supermarket.

You`re lucky if you can find food. I`m thinking about this for myself, because I`m in - I`m in the capital. And we all have to think about food, but also getting out of the city every single day. You see people with roller luggage, trying to leave if they can, in fact, because there is no truck - no real transport via car, you have you see just scores of people on the side of the road hitchhiking asking if you can, if you can get out.

So yes, there is a major mass exodus going on. You now finally say that even that`s dangerous traveling, for example, because this, this country is undergoing airstrikes. And if you`re traveling going out of the road, who`s to say that strike can`t hit you 15 minutes away from where I live, a building was hit, you know, by debris. And so nowhere it`s especially save.

MELBER: Yes, and as you underscore that, I think, walk us through for the international audience, not in Ukraine, like you. Why so many people didn`t necessarily see this as the big one, which is understandable, given how long Russia has been meddling in this and other nearby countries.

What is it that shifted for them? And how did that cascade against your experiences there? When, as we`re reporting two weeks ago, two months ago, people said, oh, sure, Putin is bad, and he does this and that, but the notion of him going into the capital had not hardened yet.

STARR: Airstrikes? I`ll tell you one thing that may have thrown people off is the fact that the military advanced by Russia went beyond the Luhansk and Donbas regions people were hoping that the advanced would no more - what pretty much carry all of the Donbas and the Luhansk regions in the east and that wouldn`t go any further than that.

The opening night, everybody woke up to massive air strikes which were something that I think definitely surprised people.


STARR: It`s not that Putin is above that we know that he is - that he`s above nothing in regards to morality, but people were hit, you know, across the East, the West, the North and the South, this massive attack. People thought that he was menacing in that regard, but he`s actually doing it. That`s what hit people off.

And then again, if you`re just used to hearing there`s explosions here, and now it`s very common, but it`s actually quite terrifying. And so and we`ve heard them all throughout the day. And so when you ask, what was what made people say, oh, man, I have to really go is that is terrifying.

And like I said, it`s hitting civilian areas. And it`s gone beyond the military and then is spooking people out. And you see people just often and one time going, clogging the roads and clogging whatever areas of escape that you can do.

But right now, the city has been cut off. There are checkpoints now. The major checkpoints inside the city, they`re being barricaded. I saw myself when I was coming into the city, from north east, or north east town coming back into Kyiv. And so it`s - so just this confluence of people leaving at one time, a city the size of Chicago, managing just millions of people in this city, and they all just think we need to go. It`s causing a massive problem.

MELBER: Yes. No, I think you gave us several tangible ways to think about it, especially the size of this, of this capital, you say Chicago, larger than Paris. You know, Americans keep track of different countries for different reasons. And we got plenty of problems and issues here at home too.

But when people think about that as a Paris or Chicago level event, you know, think about the human toll of that, which is what we wanted to focus on with you. And also stay safe. And thank you for your insights Mr. Starr.

STARR: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. We`re going to fit in a break when we come back why Republicans are struggling? Why Hillary Clinton is calling out Trump? Why Trump is trying to help Putin again? And Mike Pompeo is all diplomat confronted. That`s what it looks like when people don`t want to take really the straightforward questions. We also have an update on the Supreme Court pick and the glide path in the Senate tonight.



MELBER: Facing war we spend most of our time in the news covering the war itself. But what politicians in the Congress do matters especially this is a long running engagement and many elected Republicans have thus far really sided with Biden`s policy.

And that is a clash with the veritable party leader. The Former President Donald Trump, who`s been praising Putin his Secretary of State well, here he was two days ago.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Very capable. I have enormous respect for him. I`ve been criticized for saying that. No, I have enormous respect for him. I consider him an elegantly sophisticated counterpart.


MELBER: Pompeo today didn`t want to take questions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russian state media has played your own words from this week, which you called Russian President Vladimir Putin shrewd, capable. You said you have enormous respect. Do you regret your words?

POMPEO: I was then fighting communism since I was a teenager? I`m going to keep fighting communism.


MELBER: Hillary Clinton, who also was Secretary of State, they`ve shared that experience discussing all this on Morning Joe.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I think it`s time for what`s left of the Republican Party that has any common sense not just to say OK, go help defend Ukraine against Putin, but to stand against those people in politics and government in the media and elsewhere in our own country who are literally giving aid and comfort to an enemy of freedom and democracy.


MELBER: That`s the drag of Trump and some of those officials on the Republican Party. We`re going to fit in a break when I come back I have a special guest picking up on that other big news out of Washington and why Democrats say they could win the Supreme Court clash within a month?




JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: If I`m fortunate enough to be confirmed as the next associates Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, I can only hope that my life and career my love of this country and the constitution, and my commitment to upholding the rule of law will inspire future generations of Americans.


MELBER: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson now President Biden Supreme Court Nominee speaking today. I`m joined by NYU Law Professor Melissa Murray, a common and frequent commentator on many of these legal issues for us here on "The Beat". And we should note "The New York Times" reported at one point she was also among many of the prestigious candidates considered for this post. Thanks for being here.

MELISSA MURRAY, NYU LAW PROFESSOR: Thanks for having me, Ari.

MELBER: This comes is obviously there`s much going on in the world. And yet this is supremely significant for the Supreme Court of the United States. We were talking about this, and among my team and others today and lawyers around the country, some of what we`re seeing online excitement, the historic nature.

There was one sort of snap pain and going around imagining basically a young black girl looking up at the thought of this person being on the court and what that means. You teach students I`m just curious, any of your thoughts first overall.

MURRAY: I think this is a terrific day. I think the Biden Administration really not only nailed this process going into it, as you say, there were a number of women who are floated as prospective nominees. And I think the American public got a really clear sense of how much legal talent has gone untapped in this country.

There`s a really deep reservoir of legal talent, and you really got to see it. But today, in terms of ceremonies for introducing a nominee to the public, this really was first rate as a nominee, just Jackson`s words for moving and poignant. It was a dignified ceremony.

I think you got a sense of the occasion of the moment to see the President of the United States flanked by these two black women who had really reached the height of their profession. And of course, I`m also worthwhile to note it wasn`t a super spreader event. So a marked difference from what we may have seen in the past.

MELBER: What are her odds in the Senate? Is it all about the 50?

MURRAY: Well, again, I don`t think we are going to see the kinds of conversations that we saw in years past, for example, the justice that she`s slated to replace her own Justice Stephen G. Breyer was unanimously confirmed or nearly unanimously confirmed to the court that`s not likely to happen here.

It will be a very narrow divide, maybe even a 50/50 defied with the Vice President breaking the tie, but that`s a factor of our polarized politics, not a reflection of the qualifications of this nominee and this nominee is absolutely qualified and credentialed and bring so much to this position not just in terms of racial and gender diversity but in her professional experience.


MURRAY: She will be the first justice since Thurgood Marshall left the bench in 1991 to have experienced representing criminal defendants, and that`s really important on a court where there are two prosecutors.

MELBER: Yes, we discussed that a little bit higher in the program and how important that is, in terms of professional history. You mentioned Thurgood Marshall, who Clarence Thomas replaced. If she joins the court, it would be the first time there were ever two black judges on the court at one time, which is a distinction from other groups, including other minority groups.

There were Jewish American judges who were on the court together and Catholics, many Ivy Leaguers, so that just fix the overlap. I got about 20 seconds left in a word or a sentence, what should people know about her temperament?

MURRAY: She is judicious. She is kind. She`s empathetic. And most of all, she`s smart. And she`s open minded. She`s everything you`d want in a justice. This is a fantastic nominee. And if Republicans tried to tear her down, they`re going to just look churlish, and I think the optics is going to be incredibly poor.

MELBER: Interesting, and we`ll see where that goes? Professor Murray, thank you, we will be right back.


MELBER: These are challenging times. We appreciate you spending some of it with us that do it for `the Beat" tonight. "The Readout" with Joy Reid starts right now. Hi, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much Ari. Cheers. Have a good evening. All right, good evening everyone we begin "The Readout" tonight by stepping into the shoes of the Ukrainian people.